Pediatric Speech and Feeding: Busting the Myths

Parents want the best for their children’s health. But with so much misinformation out there, it can be tough to know what’s true and what isn’t. Iowa ENT Center speech-language pathologist, Audrey Tucker, helps to clear up some myths about kids’ speech and feeding.

Myth: Sippy cups cause feeding and speech issues.Baby sitting in a high chair holding a sippy cup

Fact: Sippy cups do not cause speech, feeding, or airway issues—and there’s no evidence linking poor oral development to the use of sippy cups. It is true, however, that pacifier use after 18 months of age increases incidents of dental malocclusions. Luckily, most correct on their own after the sucking habits end.

Myth: Oral motor exercises help children chew solid foods.

Fact: Oral motor exercises don’t provide significant advancement for a child gaining the skills needed for chewing solid foods. Learning a new skill is dependent on the experience of performing the actual new skill. Altering the food in texture, temperature, size, etc., is a better way to improve a child’s chewing ability while strengthening lateral tongue movement essential for swallowing.

Myth: Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is a viable treatment option for young children with dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing.

Fact: Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is a treatment method for adults with dysphagia. It uses electrical impulses to elicit muscle contractions. For children, there’s a lack of supportive evidence for any long-term benefits in neurodevelopment. NMES could even foster a negative relationship at mealtime during a critical development period.

Myth: Tongue ties cause speech and feeding difficulties.

Fact: Tongue ties (ankyloglossia) are often attributed to difficulties in speech and feeding. However, there’s a lack of broad, high-quality evidence to support this claim. Breastfeeding is the exception, as tongue ties are linked to breastfeeding difficulties for infants under three months old. Even then, 70-90% of breastfeeding difficulties can be resolved with non-invasive interventions.

Myth: Lip and buccal ties cause speech and feeding issues in young children and infants.

Fact: There’s no evidence connecting lip and buccal ties with feeding or speech issues. Lips don’t functionally need to project outward to latch for feeding on a breast or a bottle.

Myth: Infant reflux is not normal.

Fact: Gastroesophageal reflux occurs as the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes. This is normal and occurs in as many as 75-85% of infants. It typically resolves around 12 months of age.

About Iowa ENT Center’s Speech and Voice Center

Our Speech and Voice Center is home to advanced technology, licensed speech-language pathologists (SLPs), board-certified physicians, and licensed audiologists. We help adults and children with the full spectrum of speech and voice problems.

SLPs play a crucial role in helping infants and toddlers with communication and feeding difficulties. Our SLPs are often involved in early intervention programs, working with infants and toddlers who are at risk for or have already been diagnosed with communication disorders, such as speech delays or language impairments.

They provide assessment, treatment planning, parent education and counseling, therapy sessions, support for families, and more. Overall, SLPs play a vital role in promoting early communication and feeding skills in infants and toddlers, laying the foundation for future academic and social success.

If you have concerns about your child’s speech or voice functions, call Iowa ENT Center at 515-223-4368 or request an appointment below.

Source: The ASHA Leader, Clarifying Social Media Misinformation About Pediatric Feeding Disorders

Request an Appointment